This is the fourth year running that James Catalyn and his cast of 17 members have brought a night of laughter to Abaco. A sizeable audience gathered in the St John the Baptist Anglican Church hall on September 27 to enjoy the presentation of “Summer Madness.” This show has become an institution in Nassau, having run for a record 32 years making it the longest running theatrical production in The Bahamas.
Four years ago, when James Catalyn first brought the show to Marsh Harbour, it was so well received that he promised to make it an annual event here. This year’s show was written and directed by James Catalyn assisted by Dwain Wallace with additional scripts by Dwain Wallace and Trevann Thompson.
The show takes a satirical look at timely issues within our country and addresses current issues both domestic and political. No individual or entity is safe from Mr. Catalyn’s wit; he pokes fun at everyone but it is all intended in a friendly way.
The program was presented in the form of several skits and, of course, this year everyone guessed that BEC and VAT would be on the agenda. It is no surprise that BEC took the biggest slice of the pie even opening the program with “Abaco Darkness”. Two other skits also highlighted the woes of BEC which, it was stated, stands for ‘Bring Enough Candles.’ Lemorn Miller was outstanding in his portrayal of Leslie Miller in “Union Blues” even looking amazingly like “Der Potcake.”
A hilarious skit entitled “Der House on Der Hill,” poked fun at people who come from lowly estate and set their sights on high places. Other skits featured “Der Disgruntlement” within a certain political party and the sweethearting trend in “Stealing Wedding.” Neal Claire and Rachel role should be commended for their standout portrayal of two people of ‘foreign descent’ who are serious about “Protectin’ We Tings” in The Bahamas. They had the accents down pat.
The writers had taken serious issues of the day and presented them in a way which invited much hilarity all evening but the show closed on a more distressing note. In the epilogue, which took the form of a poem spoken by four members of the cast, each stanza began with “I weep for my country.” It touched on such subjects as illegal smuggling, schools producing unqualified students, would-be politicians with no view for tomorrow, racism putting out new shoots, corporations in a mess and “all that is rightfully mine being sold.” It ended with the line “We weep for our country and you should too”.
In his speech of thanks at the close of the evening James Catalyn, who is now 74 years of age, said that after one of his Summer Madness reviews in Nassau he was approached by an audience member who said that she was surprised to see him still living. When he told her that he was in perfectly good health she replied; “I am surprised ain’t nobody assassinate you yet for all you’ve been writing all these years.”
Mr. Catalyn’s shows are ‘Pure Bahamian’ since he states that he takes pride in keeping Bahamian culture alive. “Guard our heritage! Speak Bahamianese! Speak English only when necessary!” Is the quote he always places at the end of his programme notes.
As per tradition, following the performance the entire cast lined up at the door to greet and chat with the audience as they left.